February 21, 2005

WHAT'S BLACK, WAS BLUE, AND IS TURNING RED ALL OVER? (via Robert Schwartz):

Leader in city’s black community joins GOP because it gets results (JOE HALLETT, February 20, 2005, Columbus Dispatch)

When Walter R. Cates tells people what he’s become, incredulously they respond, "You’re a what!"

From the moment he took his first breath 63 years ago, Cates has been three things: "I’ve always told people I was born black, Baptist and Democrat."

Now he’s a Republican.

He recently switched parties, officially announcing it Thursday during a Buckeye Republican Club luncheon.

Cates is one of the most recognizable and influential leaders in Columbus. As former president of the local NAACP chapter in 1973, he sued the Columbus school district, police and fire divisions for discrimination and forced them to change.

Cates, known in the black community as "The Mayor of Main Street," founded and heads the Main Street Business Association. He often is credited, as much as anyone, for the streetlights and sidewalks, the bus stops and clinics, the stores and businesses that breathe life into the city’s urban core.

Cates has been a member of the Franklin County Democratic Party Central Committee, he’s served on the party’s candidate screening committees and he even ran for the Ohio Senate as a Democrat in 1992.

Now he’s a Republican.

There was no philosophical transformation. Issues such as gay marriage, abortion, guns, school prayer — all the stuff that moves the Republican base — had nothing to do with Cates’ move.

"This is all about delivering the goods," he said. "The Republicans are listening more."


Democrats depended for seventy years on puchasing loyalty, but no longer have access to the purse. Pared down to just the ideological base they're a twenty/thirty percent party.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 21, 2005 10:54 AM
Comments

All parties are 20/30 on an ideological basis. Yet most members are more or less centrist. Even the way OJ talks makes it seem like he could have been a 1992 Clinton Democrat.

The Democratic Party is a mess and needs some years in the wilderness, but they'll be back soon enough. Both parties will benefit from a more balance racial mix: a GOP seen as "safe" on civil rights allows the Democrats to purge the nutcase black leaders since they do not need to put up with them on the basis of "protecting civil rights." That in turn will change the rhetoric enough to attract some of the white votes that have hemorraged.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at February 22, 2005 11:27 AM
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